17 December 2008

Spinning out

Last Friday night I went home early, worn out by a shift of driving in pouring rain. I didn’t bother washing the car, parked it, went to bed. That was around three in the morning.

At 0420 - I remember the display on the bedside clock - I got a phone call from Tiny, who drives another Silver Service cab in the same mini fleet. They call him Tiny because he’s the tallest driver in Canberra. He’s been having a rough trot with health issues and car problems, and I wasn’t at all surprised to hear him say, “I’ve spun out near Cook, can you do a silver job for me?”

This was exactly what I’d been fearing for myself and I felt sorry for Tiny that he’d had an accident on wet roads added to all his other troubles, but I’d finished my shift, I was fast asleep, and for all I knew the Saturday day driver had already collected the car and driven off, so I declined with thanks.

Now, I might have gone straight from dreaming to answering the phone, but I remembered the incident in the morning. Next time I saw my day driver, Paul, I mentioned that Tiny had spun out and I was very glad that it hadn’t been me. Paul passed this on to Geoff, who is Tiny’s day driver, and of course he gave Tiny a ribbing next time he saw him.

Wednesday night, and I pulled into the Shell servo in Tuggeranong. On the other side of the gas pump was Tiny, his Holden Statesman with the filler cap on the driver’s side.

“Listen, mate,” he said, “What did you think I said when I rang you?”

“That you’d spun out near Cook,” I replied, kind of puzzled.

“No, I said that I was wrung out, feeling crook, and going home.”


Still, I was glad that the joke was on me, after all, and that Tiny hadn’t had an accident. The shark bite on his leg is healing up nicely, too - he posted some gruesome looking photographs on his Facebook page.

I gassed up and went into Civic to collect a cabload of young nightclubbers. There was a queue already, young women in scanty clothing feeling the unseasonal chill in the air. It’s almost midsummer, but you wouldn’t know it. It’s cold and windy, with occasional showers, and putting a real damper on the Christmas festivities here.

They guy in the yellow jacket is a marshal, keeping control over the line, making sure that the cabbies pick up the passengers from the right end. Just a little bit of organisation works wonders. If left to themselves, the tired and emotional young folk can get competitive, battling for cabs, trying to jump the queue, scuffles breaking out...

But have someone guiding the cabs in, making sure they collect from the head of the line, it all flows smoothly, everyone confident that they’ll get a ride or a fare if they are patient. It’s good when the system works.

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